Shanshan Feng is hoping a tried and tested formula will land her a third Omega Dubai Ladies Masters title.
The 26-year-old Chinese star is one of the biggest names in women’s golf now. She is ranked sixth in the world, has also won a major championship and is the defending champion on a golf course she loves, having already secured the Order of Merit title on the Ladies European Tour – making her the first player from China to achieve that.
Ask any golfer as established as Feng about where they hope to finish in the tournament, and most will either say they want to win, or be within a couple of shots of the lead going into the back nine of the final round. But that’s not the Feng way.
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She keeps her targets modest, and this week, she is looking at nothing more than a top-10 finish. That’s her method of reducing the pressure heaped on her.
Feng, who won the tournament in 2012 in her first appearance at 21-under par, and then again last year at 19-under par, said on the eve of the 10th edition of the tournament: “Well, my coach always tells me, when you’re practicing on the golf course, you should always prepare like you’re going to win the tournament.
“I think that is right for sure, and that’s how I prepare to play in the tournament. But also, I think saying that I want to win this tournament or I have to win, that’s going to give me pressure.
“The pressure from the other people and from the fans, it’s already enough for me. I don’t want to give myself any extra pressure. So, I try to do everything that can relieve the pressure.
“I think that is one of the ways I do it, by not saying that I want to win it. I just try my best. If it’s mine, it’s mine.”
Feng described Dubai as her “lucky place”, but said there is no guarantee that she is going to perform as well as she did during her last two wins here.
Asked if she felt more at home on a golf course where she’s played so well in the past, Feng said: “To give you an example, I played in Beijing twice in the same tournament and on the same golf course.
“The first year, I was 26 under and I won. The second year when I was defending champion, I didn’t play well at all. I believe I was like two-over total. That was like almost a 30 shot difference on the same course.
“I’d say everything can happen because this is golf. So, I really do not expect myself to do the same thing like last year or three years ago.
“But then, I might have a chance to play even better. I’m not really thinking about the past, I’m just focusing on right now, the present.”
— Dubai Ladies Masters (@OmegaDLM) December 9, 2015
With a win at the Buick Championship back home and a third place at the Evian Championship, Feng has earned €324,213 (Dh1.3m) from five tournaments this year, while Denmark’s Nicole Broch Larsen is second at €230,777 (Dh921,000).
With the first prize this week being €75,000, Feng’s lead is insurmountable. But while she was extremely proud of becoming the first Chinese woman to win the Order of Merit crown, Feng will be even more delighted if more players from her country started vying for the title.
“I would say I’m really proud of myself to be able to earn that honor. I also want to thank the Ladies European Tour. Even though I didn’t have many chances to play on this tour, but every time I come, I think everyone is really professional and welcomes me,” Feng said.
“I’m really happy that I won this Order of Merit. Maybe, I’m the first Chinese right now, but I’m hoping there will be more Chinese in the future that actually can win. That will make very happy.”
Feng has been paired for the first two rounds with Broch Larsen and England’s Melissa Reid, who is ranked third in the Order of Merit and will tee off at 11.55 today.
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